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Chapter 3

PSYCH 101 Chapter 3: An Introduction to Psychological Science > Module 3.2 (ONLINE Week 2): How the Nervous System Works: Cells and Neurotransmitters (Krause, Corts, Smith, Dolderman)


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Paul Wehr

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Module 3.2 - How the Nervous System Works: Cells and Neurotransmitters
Learning Objectives:
-understand how nerve cells communicate
-understand the way that drugs and other substances affect the brain
-understand the roles that hormones play in our behaviour
How the Nervous System Works: Cells and
Neural Communication
-human body is composed of many different types of cells, psychologists are most
interested in neurons
neurons: one of the major types of cells found in the nervous system, that are
responsible for sending and receiving messages throughout the body
-in order to understand how this type of cell works, it is necessary to understand the
structure and function of the neuron
The Neuron
-primary purpose of neurons is to “fire”, to receive input from one group of neurons
and to transmit that information to other neurons (all neurons have a cell body)
cell body: part of a neuron that contains the nucleus that houses the cell’s genetic
dendrites: small branches radiating from the cell body that receive messages from other
cells and transmit those messages toward the rest of the cell
axon: transports information in the form of electrochemical reactions from the cell body
to the end of the neuron
neurotransmitters: the chemicals that function as messengers, allowing neurons to
communicate with each other (many different types of neurotransmitters)
-physical structure of a neuron is related to the function it performs
Glial Cells
glial cells: specialized cells of the nervous system that are involved in mounting immune
responses in the brain, removing waste, and synchronizing the activity of billions of
neurons that constitute the nervous system
-critical function of glial cells is to insulate the axon of a neuron, creates myelin
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